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How a Facebook group is helping other parents in Central Texas find baby formula

One parent is urging people to join the group and post pictures from the stores they visit to show what's on the shelves to help out parents in need.

AUSTIN, Texas — The worsening baby formula shortage is burdening so many families in the U.S. and a group of Central Texas parents is doing something about it.

Brittany Matthews helped create the Central Texas Formula Search Facebook group, a community of about 1,000 people who are sharing their resources and knowledge in order to get other parents connected with baby formula for their children.

This group comes as there is a troubling new development in the baby formula supply crisis. Two children were hospitalized in Tennessee after they were fed alternatives to the specialized formula they need.

The Abbott nutrition plant that makes specialized formulas may reopen in two weeks after an agreement was made with the FDA. But it would take up to two more months to get those products on the shelves.

Matthews joined KVUE Wednesday to talk about how the Facebook group came about and what kind of impact it's had on parents in the area.

"I was going between stores from Austin to Waco looking for a specialized formula for my son," she said. "And I figured, you know, I'm already out here looking. Why not just take what I'm looking at, post it online and see if anybody else needs it and just let them know where it's located?"

She said that, every day, over 1,000 members from all over Texas and Central Texas post on the page to let others know what kind of formula different stores are carrying and the time they saw the products. She said that hopefully by the time someone sees it, they're able to run and grab it before it's all gone.

"I personally had a man cry to me when I was able to give him some formula that my son couldn't use," she said. "And I've had people send me the longest messages saying how grateful they are for the group and that I created it and that they're so thankful because their kids are living off sample cans or the cans that are donated to them because they can't find anything for them."

Matthews is urging people to join the group and post pictures from the stores they visit to show what's on the shelves to help out parents in need during the formula shortage.

One Cedar Park mom says she feels double the stress to make sure her twin boys are fed.

Hannah Wilson said her biggest problem started in February, when a recall on certain formulas were first made. At the time, her sons were only four months old. She said she goes to great lengths to find even a few cans of formula, but her options are running out.

"I often will call about 10 different H-E-Bs trying to find ones that have gotten stock in and usually none of them do. Occasionally I'll find one but I oftentimes have to drive up to an hour away to be able to get that formula. It's been kind of heartbreaking, to say the least."

On Wednesday, Texas Children's Hospital said they advise parents not to seek alternatives online, such as a stranger's breast milk, to feed your babies, noting there are infection risks. The hospital also advises from making your own formula.

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